And a copilot becomes a captain not by virtue of skill or experience, but rather when his or her seniority standing allows it. And not every copilot wants to become a captain right away. Airline seniority bidding is a complicated thing, and a pilot can often have a more comfortable quality of life — salary, aircraft assignment, schedule and choice of destinations — as a senior copilot than as a junior captain. Thus, at a given airline, there are plenty of copilots who are older and more experienced than many captains.
One of the best paragraphs that sums up who the "co-pilot" of an airliner really is or can be. I had no choice whatsoever in my progression. It took me seven years to the day to where I was able to hold a Captain seat at my previous airline and now that I've moved on, I'm back to being a First Officer / Co-Pilot / Co-Captain / Right Seat by virtue of my hire date. It will take pilots above me leaving or retiring and / or the airline expanding with more aircraft and routes before I can hold the title of Captain again. Even at that point, it'll also depends on where I am in my life in terms of having to be away more since I'll be on reserve. More on that later.
Back to the topic, I've known Captains downgrade to First Officer due to a lifestyle change where they wanted more time at home. Some are able to afford to take the 35% pay cut but in all circumstances, their skills did NOT degrade just by switching seats or epaulets. The media needs to get this right and do a better story overall on a pilot's life. I'm starting to get rather annoying. Just my Tuesday rant.
Make sure to read the entire post via Patrick Smith's AskThePilot